CLEMSON – Louisiana State quarterback Zach Mettenberger told reporters recently he’s watched about six games of Clemson’s season and let’s just say he’s looking forward to playing No. 14 Clemson (10-2) on Dec. 31 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
“They give up a lot of big plays in the passing game. I think the least amount of passing yards I’ve seen them give up is like 300 something,” Mettenberger said. “If we have the opportunity presented, we’re going to do that - pass the ball vertically against them.”
Mettenberger has had a so-so first year as a starter, completing 58 percent of his passes for 2,489 yards and 11 touchdowns against six interceptions, but Clemson made backup South Carolina quarterback Dylan Thompson look like a Heisman contender when Thompson threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns in USC’s win over Clemson on Nov. 24.
Clemson ranks 71st in the country in yards allowed per pass attempt (7.4).
Clemson has allowed 44 passing plays of 20 yards or more this season, which ranks 89th in the country.
Clemson’s secondary was thin to begin the year, losing Martin Jenkins to a season-ending injury before the season started. Jenkins was arguably the team’s best corner. Clemson was without both of its starting cornerbacks - Darius Robinson and Bashaud Breeland - against South Carolina.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is hopeful Breeland (groin) will play against No. 8 LSU (10-2) but has ruled Robinson (broken led) out for the game.
The injuries have forced Xavier Brewer to move from safety to corner. The banged up unit has also been hurt by the lack of a consistent pass rush.
Clemson is also without a coach for the secondary as Charlie Harbison has left to take the same position at Auburn. Staff assistant Wesley Goodman is coaching the secondary in bowl practice.
Four-star Class of 2013 receiver Demarcus Robinson recommitted to Clemson Monday after he decommitted from Clemson last week. Robinson had briefly committed to Florida, but he was recently visited by Clemson coaches. Robinson’s recommitted bumped Clemson up to No. 17 in Rivals.com’s Class of 2013 rankings. Clemson had fallen from the top 15 to No. 23 after losing five-star defensive end Robert Nkemdiche and Robinson.